University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Health Care Privacy and Decision-Making

At the age of 18, most young adults become responsible for their own health care decisions and are the only ones who can see their health information. However, there are several options that may allow family members to continue to be involved in the health care decisions of youth with special health care needs.

  • Supported Decision-Making allows people to make their own choices, while receiving help as needed from friends, family members, and professionals. The National Center for Supported Decision-Making has resources to help youth with special health care needs and their families to make a plan for this process.
  • A Power of Attorney allows the court to name a person to act on a young adult's behalf, and to make health care, financial, or other decisions. Depending on an individual's needs, the Power of Attorney can be written to only apply to certain topics, and can also be written to end at a certain time.
  • Guardianship is court-authorized way to allow one person (the guardian) to make decisions for another person (the ward). These decisions include things like medical treatment, where to live, and who is allowed to visit.
  • Conservatorship is when a court assigns one person to manage the money of another person.

For more information about these options, contact Disability Rights Iowa, Iowa Legal Aid, Frank A. Varvaris, or another lawyer.

More Information

Turning 18: What is Means for Your Health - Got Transition?

Your Medical Records - Teens Health

Guardianship and Decision-Making - Got Transition?

Special Needs Trusts - Iowa Department of Human Services

Sharing Health Information with Family Members and Friends - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services